An orchard of smiles

Claire Boysen, writer

Mark Borella, founder of Seeds of Happiness (SOH), said he tells the story of a girl he met to almost everyone who asks about his company.

A girl walks up to a man selling little clay figurines and tells him that if it were not for these pieces of clay, she would not be here today. In the midst of horrible depression, she went to a bridge to jump off when a complete stranger stopped her and gave her a ball of clay with a smile on it. She looked at the piece of clay in her hand and decided that “if a stranger cared enough about my life then maybe I am important enough to be here.”

Borella founded SOH when his friend’s son was dying of cancer and he saw they needed joy in a time of grief. Using small lumps of leftover clay to make smiling faces, SOH was created. Borella has been creating the seeds since 2006. However, Borella said his company started at a slow pace.

“Between 2006 and 2010, I probably made a thousand of them, now we probably make over a thousand a day,” Borella said.


Borella said, SOH not only changes the lives of people who are receiving, but also giving. Giving and receiving the seeds helps everyone involved find inner-peace.

“[For] every seed that we make, two people are affected,” Borella said. “The person who finds healing and happiness in giving it to somebody and the person who finds healing and happiness in receiving one.”

Borella is not the only one who sees people’s lives change after receiving or giving a Smile. Laura Maichel, production artist and writer, noticed the small act of kindness goes a long way.

“I see how important it is to put yourself out for [others] and that is more important than money or buying stuff,” Maichel said. “Just to give of yourself [is enough].”

However, not everyone is given a seed in a time of grief. Mary Cleary, freshman, received hers from her mother after completing a Girl Scout badge, she said. The seed still gives her something to smile about to this day.

“I think of the person who gave it to me and [that] they gave it to me at that time [for making them proud],” Cleary said.

Borella said throughout SOH he has noticed the world is not filled with hate, but love. He has learned most people want to do good in the world and they do not always mean to come off negative.  

“The world is not a horrible place,” Borella said. “Most people want to help people and to be happy, they just don’t know how. [SOH] is giving people an avenue to be nice to each other.”

Borella said, while the beginning goal of SOH was to bring joy to a friend’s family, his goal now is to spread happiness as far as they can. Borella’s dream for his company is to have affected someone one way or the other and to continue to make people smile.

“I would like to put a smile on everyone’s face or in everyone’s pocket,” Borella said.

To purchase your own Seeds of Happiness, go to